Holocaust studies scholar Erin McGlothlin has been named vice dean of undergraduate affairs in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, effective June 1, announced Feng Sheng Hu, the Lucille P. Markey Distinguished Professor and dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences.
McGlothlin is professor of German and chair of the university’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures and professor of Jewish studies in the Department of Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (JIMES).
She will succeed Jennifer R. Smith, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, who has been named to the new position of vice provost for educational initiatives in the Office of the Provost.
When updating the Arts & Sciences community in November on the search for Smith’s successor, Hu noted that he had decided to reconfigure the position to focus more on the school’s educational mission rather than on operational activities. He also changed the position’s title to better reflect the focus on maintaining and enhancing the school’s high level of undergraduate education.
As vice dean of undergraduate affairs, McGlothlin will be responsible for the university’s liberal arts curriculum, which serves all Washington University undergraduates, the majority of whom major or minor in an Arts & Sciences discipline.
She will be a key member of the dean’s leadership team with responsibility for the strategic oversight of undergraduate curriculum planning, pedagogy, course development, program evaluation and new educational initiatives. As vice dean, she also will lead the College of Arts & Sciences’ hallmark four-year advising program and manage an annual budget of more than $3 million.
“I know Erin will be an exceptional leader for the College of Arts & Sciences,” Hu said. “Her work will be critical to maintaining and enhancing our excellent record of undergraduate education and ensuring the success of all of our talented students. I look forward to her partnership in the years ahead.”
McGlothlin has held numerous leadership roles at the university, including serving from 2010-13 as director of research for the Center for the Humanities and then as the center’s interim director.
She is a member of the university’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee and was on the Faculty Senate Council, serving as secretary from 2015-17.
“I am excited to continue the impressive legacy of Jen Smith and the late James McLeod, who both provided such a strong foundation and made the College of Arts & Sciences a tight-running machine that does a superb job serving our undergraduates,” McGlothlin said.
“I aspire to contribute in positive ways to the next phase of undergraduate education at Washington University. I am a firm believer in the critical role that a liberal arts and sciences education can play in the maintenance of democratic values and the cultivation of a globally aware and socially just citizenry.
“One area in particular that I’d like to put my energy into is to providing strong support to underrepresented, first-generation and financially vulnerable students,” McGlothlin added. “Underrepresented students need to feel valued by the university at all levels, and the college can help foster a sense of belonging not only by bolstering their academic experience but also by ensuring that all students have the same academic opportunities, particularly with regard to study abroad and study travel.”
Deeply committed to students, she has served as director of graduate studies in German and director of undergraduate studies in both German and JIMES and as a member of Arts & Sciences’ Academic Planning Committee and its First-Year Experience Advisory Committee. She also has served on the university’s Sexual Assault Investigative Board, among many other committee appointments and advisory roles.
A four-year undergraduate adviser, McGlothlin served as a Faculty Fellow from 2013-16 for the Rubelmann/Umrath/South 40 House Residential College, where she instituted the popular Sundaes on Sunday, inviting students to her South 40 home to indulge in an ice cream sundae bar.
“Erin is an ideal person to take on this important role,” said Kit Wellmon, dean of academic planning and professor of philosophy in Arts & Sciences, who served as chair of the eight-member search committee.
“She is bright, energetic, has previous administrative experience and cares passionately about all aspects of our students’ lives. Jen Smith is obviously a tough act to follow, but I have no doubt that Erin will excel in this vital leadership position.”
A native of Dallas, McGlothlin joined the Arts & Sciences faculty as an assistant professor of German in 2001 after earning her master’s degree (1996) and PhD (2001) in German from the University of Virginia. She earned her bachelor’s degree in 1993 from the University of Texas at Austin.
A scholar of Holocaust literature and film and German-Jewish literature, McGlothlin’s research and teaching interests include postwar and contemporary German literature, Jewish studies, narrative theory, autobiography and the graphic novel.
She is the author of “Second-Generation Holocaust Literature: Legacies of Survival and Perpetration” (2006) and has co-edited two volumes: “After the Digital Divide?: German Aesthetic Theory in the Age of New Digital Media” (2009) and “Persistent Legacy: The Holocaust and German Studies” (2016).
A third volume she co-edited, “The Construction of Testimony: Claude Lanzmann’s ‘Shoah’ and its Outtakes,” was published last year.
Her most recent book, “The Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fiction and Nonfiction,” will be published this spring.
‘A skilled bridge builder’
An innovative teacher, she created with Anika Walke, associate professor of history, a yearlong first-year Ampersand program, titled “The History, Memory, and Representation of the Holocaust,” that culminates in a two-week study trip to Holocaust-related sites in Germany, Poland and Lithuania.
She also designed and hosted through the Center for the Humanities the university’s first scholarly writing retreat for faculty to help scholars get a jump-start on a productive, prolific summer break.
Known as a dedicated teacher and mentor, McGlothlin is a two-time winner of the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award (2007 and 2015), which is based on nominations by graduate students, and a finalist for the First Year Center’s Outstanding Faculty Award in 2019.
“I consider myself incredibly lucky to know Professor McGlothlin and to have benefited from her teaching, mentorship, wisdom and support for four years,” said Steven Kish, a senior double-majoring in economics in Arts & Sciences and finance in Olin Business School, one of McGlothlin’s student advisees.
“A skilled bridge builder between students and faculty, Professor McGlothlin is unafraid to challenge norms in pursuit of a more equitable, fulfilling and integrated undergraduate experience. Her deep understanding of the Arts & Sciences student experience is informed by her natural ability to build meaningful relationships with students of all disciplines,” said Kish, who participated in the Holocaust Ampersand program in 2017-18.
“I am elated to know that the next generation of Arts & Sciences undergraduates will be in her most capable hands.”